So far the semester is going well, especially so in a couple classes. My elective is one about art and how it works with architecture; we study artist like Richard Serra, Matthew Barney, Banksy, and others who are even more obscure to most people than those three are. A lot of people I haven’t heard of, but I completely love learning about these artists and their work. Our first assignment was to make a public art piece and install it, and mine is hopefully going to be installed in a week or two, once I get permission for it (because it takes up a lot of space). The current assignment has to do with photography, as since that’s an interest of mine anyway I’m really excited about it.
Another of my classes is a design/research methods class, in which we learn different ways of critiquing architecture and writing about it. It’s sort of like a film or literary theory class, for those of you who might have taken those classes before, except about architecture. We’ve studied guys like Derrida, Heidegger, Barthes, and Tschumi so far, and the rest of the semester promises more of the same. I’m really liking this class too because it gives me a chance to think deeply and be inspired by these other people who are thinking deeply. We just turned in a paper for this class, a short 1500-word research paper. More of a topic statement paper, I guess, because 1500 words isn’t long enough for a real research paper (I remember 20-30 pagers in undergrad), but I wrote mine on how Tschumi’s architecture and theory fits into the film theory idea of montage, and hopefully this will translate into my thesis next year which I want to be about how architecture is really montage and if that’s true than what does it mean for the way we design? It’s something that sparked my interest after reading Tschumi’s essay and learning he was a follower of Sergei Eisenstein’s film theories, and hopefully I can make an interesting thesis project out of it. I’m confident in my writing ability, what I think I need to work on is the translation of that into design.
So those are the good parts of this semester. So far it hasn’t been a stressful one at all, and my studio is traveling to the New Orleans area in three weeks, so I’m obviously looking forward to that. We’re stopping by the Rural Studio on the way down, and I’m beyond thrilled that I’m finally going to be able to see the architecture that inspires me possibly more than any other.
For Valentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with this 10-minute film of a guy driving through Paris in 1978 to meet his wife at Sacre-Coeur. The story goes that a French director mounted a camera to the bumper of a Mercedes and drove as fast as he could through the heart of Paris. They didn’t close any streets for this, so everything you see happening is taking place on open public streets. The driver is running right through red lights, squealing tires around curves, and reaches almost 140 kilometers per hour in some places. The director admitted he was the driver, and was arrested upon the first public showing of this film. It went underground until a DVD release a couple years ago. So, obviously, this is something kind of special. Watch it with the sound on (they redrove the route a week later in a Ferrari and dubbed that car’s sound in, and some people have said it’s the most perfect film soundtrack ever made) and listen to the engine whine, the gears shift, and the tires squeal. It’s a kind of symphony, and I think when you’re finished you’ll realize you just watched something sublimely beautiful and moving.